Ear, nose, throat and eye swabs

Throat and quinsy swabs, mouth, dental and tongue swabs, nose and pernasal swabs, eye and conjunctival swabs and ear swabs. Microbiology will perform isolation, identification and susceptibility testing of organisms likely to be pathogenic at the site swabbed. Turn around time 2-3 days (positive and negative results)

Please clearly indicate if certain pathology is suspected as specific additional culture media and methodology is required for certain organisms. For throat or oropharyngeal swabs this is relevant for Diptheria, meningococcal carriage, candidiasis, Vincent’s angina, Staph aureus carriage (see also MRSA screen ordering) and whooping cough/Bordetella pertussis. In the case of whooping cough a pernasal (not a standard nose swab) is required.

For eye swabs: If acanthamoeba is suspected in an eye infection please refer to information on acanthamoeba testing. If chlamydial testing in addition to routine culture is required e.g in ophthalmia neoatorum please ensure that a specific chlamydial swab is sent in addition to a routine Amies swab.
Clinical details: 
Pharnyngitis, epiglottitis, otitis externa, parotitis, oral candidiasis, ophthalmia neonatorum, whooping cough, Diphtheria, conjunctivitis
Synonyms or keywords: 
Throat, tongue, candida, thrush, nasal swab, whooping cough, Bordetella, diphtheria, eye, ear, conjuntival,
Sample type and Volume required: 
Please request/indicate swab site i.e. ear swab left, eye swab right and record approriate clinical details.
Use Amies swab transport medium (colourless blue top) - from hospital patients, for non in-patients please use Amies charcoal swabs (Black top)
Do NOT send dry swabs. For isolation of Bordetella pertussis the causative agent of whooping cough please send a pernasal swab which is distinct from a throat swab. If Chlamydia testing in addition to routine culture is required ensure that a specific chlamydial swab is sent in addition to a routine Amies swab.
Turnaround time: 
2 - 3 days
Special sample instructions: 

pernasal swabs are used for cases of suspected whooping cough.

Storage and transport: 
Please place labelled sample in a sealed transport bag and send to Central Specimen Reception (CSR). Samples should be refrigerated if transport to the laboratory is delayed.
Infection Sciences Department at St Thomas' Hospital
020 7188 8008
St Thomas' Hospital
North Wing - 5th Floor
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH
Core opening hours: Monday-Friday 0900-1730

For clinical advice or interpretation of results, please contact the laboratory in the first instance.

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Last updated: 27/11/2017